· Apr 12, 2019 11m read

Build HealthShare Docker Images for Demo Purposes on a Windows Laptop

1. Purpose

This is a 10-minute simple step-by-step guide on how to quickly set up various flavors of HealthShare docker containers from scratch on a Win10 laptop. 

For example, we can build a couple of  HealthShare "global edition vs UK Edition" demos as shown below.  

There are a couple of frequently asked questions from HealthShare colleagues and partners:

  • "I am no Docker guy, but is there a quick way to build various flavors of HealthShare containers simply for demo/PoC/dev/training or troubleshooting purpose?"
  • "I just can't make "Docker for Windows" work on my Win10 laptop - how did you make that work? What's the simplest/easiest way to play with HealthShare containers on my old Windows laptop?"

The truth is I am not Docker specialist either - I wish I had time for it. I am using an old laptop, and I haven't even tried "Docker for Windows" yet. 

I happen to be using "Docker Toolbox for Windows" for the past 18 months to play with ICM, HealthShare and IRIS containers, and it worked well so far on a densely populated old laptop. I didn't notice any major show-stoppers yet - please let me know if you happen to encounter one.              


2. Scope

The main components used in this quick guide are simply:

  • Docker Toolbox for Windows - it is a legacy application now but downloadable and works well
  • HealthShare 2018.1 for Centos(RHEL64) release 
  • WebTerminal  - so you can run HealthShare/Cache Terminal in a web browser 
  • Windows 10 Pro laptop

In this guide we will:

  • Build a HealthShare 2018.1 Docker image from scratch
  • Run a HealthShare container as a "global edition" demo.
  • Run another HealthShare container as a "UK Edition" demo.
  • See what's next.  

A note about HealthShare here:  "Docker Toolbox" actually uses VirtualBox as a Docker Machine, and all HealthShare containers in this guide are actually running as Centos applications on VirtualBox which in turns runs on a Win10 Pro OS.  

Other than that the same step-by-step guide (except step 4.1 below) would work well for any other Docker platforms, such as Docker Desktop for Windows, Docker for MacOS and Linux etc. 



  • Sure, "10-minute" is a figurative speech; in reality it might take up to 1-2 hours to run the Dockerfile to build your 1st HealthShare docker image, and to configure various flavors of containers. After then it should just take a few seconds to run it. 
  • Docker Toolbox becomes a legacy application now. 

3. Prerequisite

It would need at least 40G+ disk space on your Windows laptop.

There is no other prerequisite than you have to be familiar with Intersystems HealthShare products, their installation and configurations on common Linux platforms.

No "Docker Desktop for Windows" or Hyper-V is needed. Docker knowledge or experiences (of any kind) would be helpful but not mandatory. We will avoid any deep dive in Docker itself.  


4. Steps from the scratch 

4.1 Install "Docker Toolbox for Windows"

"Docker Toolbox for Windows" can be download from here.

Please follow the screen-by-screen installation guide to install "Docker Toolbox for Windows" application on your Windows laptop.

Please run Step 3 "Verify your installation" of the above link to make sure the installation is successful. You can choose all default settings as a quick start.   "Optional: Add shared directories" is not needed in this guide, but may be helpful for your further plays.

After the above is done, We can start "Docker Quickstart Terminal" then run the following. We can see a VM with hostname "Default" having been created as a Docker Machine:

zhongli@UKE7450ZLEE MINGW64 /h
$ docker-machine ls
default * virtualbox Running tcp:// v18.09.3


4.2 Increase Docker machine's disk size

Currently (by today April 2019) HealthShare is not really designed for Docker yet, so it's still a relatively large footprint in disk size - will be a 6G+ for a standard base installation. 

So first we will increase the Docker machine VM's disk size to e.g. 50G. 

  1. Close all "Docker Quickstart Terminal" windows.
  2. Find and edit this file: C:\Program Files\Docker Toolbox\, by adding a line in bold red as below, then save it

... ...

STEP="Checking if machine $VM exists"
if [ $VM_EXISTS_CODE -eq 1 ]; then
    ... ...

    ... ...
   "${DOCKER_MACHINE}" create -d virtualbox --virtualbox-disk-size "50000" $PROXY_ENV "${VM}"   

STEP="Checking status on $VM"... ...

Note, now you can simply remove the newly  create docker machine "default" by typing docker-machine rm default in Docker QuickStart Terminal, then close and restart the Terminal - it will create a new "default" docker machine with a 50G vmdk disk. 

4.3 Create a Dockerfile for HealthShare 

Using e.g. Notepad++ to create a Docker file - you can simply copy across the sample content below, edit & save it with a file name of "Dockerfile"

# This Docker manifest file builds a container with:
# - sshd running (linux containers don't usually have it)
# - HealthShare 2018.1 for RHEL x64 and 
# - it handles container PID 1 via ccontainermain which offers various flags
# build the new image with e.g. 
# $ docker build --force-rm --no-cache -t hs:18.01 .

# pull from this repository
# note that if you don't have the distribution you're after it will be automatically
# downloaded from Docker central hub repository (you'll have to create a user there)

FROM tutum/centos:latest

MAINTAINER zhongli <>

# setup variables for the HealthShare 
ENV TMP_INSTALL_DIR=/tmp/distrib
ENV HS_DIST="HealthShare-2018.1-Exchange_Insight_Index-b7718-lnxrhx64.tar"

# vars for HealthShare installation
ENV WEBTERMINAL_DIST="WebTerminal-v4.8.0.xml"

# HealthShare distribution_
# set-up and install HealthShare from distrib_tmp dir

# update OS + dependencies & run HealthShare silent install
RUN yum -y update \
 && yum -y install which tar bzip2 hostname net-tools wget java \
 && yum -y clean all \
 && ln -sf /etc/locatime /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/London

RUN ./HealthShare-*/cinstall_silent
RUN ccontrol stop $ISC_PACKAGE_INSTANCENAME quietly 

 && printf "SuperUser\n${ISC_PACKAGE_USER_PASSWORD}\n" \

RUN ccontrol stop $ISC_PACKAGE_INSTANCENAME quietly

# TCP sockets that can be accessed if user wants to (see 'docker run -p' flag)
EXPOSE 56772 56773 57772 57773 57774 1972 22 80 443

# Caché container main process PID 1 (
ADD ccontainermain .

ENTRYPOINT  ["/ccontainermain", "-cconsole"]

# run via:
# docker run -d -p 57772:57772 -p 1972:1972 -e ROOT_PASS="linux" --name HSTEST hs:18.01 -i=HEALTHSHARE
# more options & explanations
# $ docker run -d            // detached in the background; accessed only via network
# --privileged                  // only for kernel =<3.16 like CentOS 6 & 7; it gives us root privileges to tune the kernel etc.
# -h <host_name>            // you can specify a host name
# -p 57772:57772             // TCP socket port mapping as host_external:container_internal
# -p         // this means allow 2222 to be accesses from any ip on this host and map it to port 22 in the container
# -e ROOT_PASS="linux"        // -e for env var; tutum/centos extension for root pwd definition
# <docker_image_id>             // see docker images to fetch the right name & tag or id
#                             // after the Docker image id, we can specify all the flags supported by 'ccontainermain'
#                             // see this page for more info
# -i=HealthShare                    // this is the Cachè instance name
# -xstart=/                    // eXecute another service at startup time
#                            // starts sshd (part of tutum centos container)
#                            // for more info see


4.4 Check the working directory 

Now we can list the complete working directory needed to build our first HealthShare docker image.

For example, my working directory is H:\HS20181, shown as below:

We should have the following files within the working directory:

  1. cache.key   - A valid HealthShare key file
  2. ccontainermain - Can be downloaded from here:; there is a very good description on why we need it.
  3. Dockerfile - the text file we just created/saved as above.
  4. HealthShare-2018.1-Exchange_Insight_Index-b7718-lnxrhx64.tar - you can download from WRC Download page this HealthShare 2018.1 installation file for REHL/Centos x64 (note: you need to unzip it to tar format here)
  5. Webtermial-v4.8.0.xml - WebTerminal component can be download from Intersystems Developer Community:

The above are all you need to build a HealthShare 2018.1 docker imagine.  


4.5 Build our first HealthShare Docker image 

Now we simply start "Docker Quick Start Terminal", then run this command with the Terminal window, to build our first HealthShare Docker image labeled as "hs:18.01

zhongli@UKE7450ZLEE MINGW64 /h/DockerHS2018
$ docker build --force-rm --no-cache -t hs:18.01 .

Note: It may take quite a while, up to 30-45 minute, for the first run. If there is an issue, you can simply re-run the above command and it will carry on from where it failed - the Dockerfile is still fairly bare and not fit for exception handlings, but the underlining build tool is fairly robust. 

If the build is successful, the you can inspect the images that we just build by running "docker image ls"

zhongli@UKE7450ZLEE MINGW64 /h
docker image ls
hs 18.01 1d7f1216edc4 5 weeks ago 21.1GB
tutum/centos latest 99a633ad346f 3 years ago 297MB


4.6 Run our 1st HealthShare Container as a "global edition"

Now we can simply run our first HealthShare container application "HSTEST", by using a line of command below within the same Docker Terminal window:

docker run -d -p 57772:57772 -p 1972:1972 -e ROOT_PASS="linux" --name HSTEST hs:18.01 -i=HEALTHSHARE

This command will create a HealthShare container listening on port 1972 and 57772 of our Docker machine "Default" (default local IP - can be configured):

zhongli@UKE7450ZLEE MINGW64 /h
$ Docker ps -a
070028738c25 hs:18.01 "/ccontainermain -cc" 5 weeks ago Up 2 days 22/tcp, 80/tcp, 443/tcp,>1972/tcp, 56772-56773/tcp, 57773-57774/tcp,>57772/tcp HSTEST

Now we can certainly start to try all sort of HealthShare operations that we normally do for HealthShare demo/PoC/troubleshooting and all kind of configurations.

For example, we can quickly invoke the WebTerminal to run HealthShare's "InstallDemo()" utility, to set up those few common test patients for a quick issue etc:


To see the following HS components were created, and to invoke the CV with a test patient:


4.7 Run our 2nd HealthShare container as a "UK Edition"

By using the same image "HS:18.01", we can also create another HealthShare container, then configure it to be a "UK Edition 2018.1":

docker run -d -p 57792:57772 -p 1992:1972 -e ROOT_PASS="linux" --name HSUK hs:18.01 -i=HEALTHSHARE

Then we can see container "HSUK" is running on ports 1992 and 57792 of the Docker machine:

$ Docker ps -a
68a78be76fac hs:18.01 "/ccontainermain -cc" 2 days ago Up 2 days 80/tcp, 443/tcp, 56772-56773/tcp, 57773-57774/tcp,>22/tcp,>1972/tcp,>57772/tcp HSUK
070028738c25 hs:18.01 "/ccontainermain -cc" 5 weeks ago Up 3 days 22/tcp, 80/tcp, 443/tcp,>1972/tcp, 56772-56773/tcp, 57773-57774/tcp,>57772/tcp HSTEST

Now we can deploy our "HealthShare UK Edition 2018.1" into this Container instance, then use it for e.g. Testing and Training purpose, such as Clinicial Viewer V2 training - actually that's exactly what we did in our "HealthShare Engineering Week 2019" event.

So we can see a UK flavor of the HS 2018.1 CV2:


5 What's next

Docker container is indeed well fit for running many various flavors of HealthShare applications that are logically separated, and have a well consolidated foot print on the hard disk, apart from other well known DevOps advantages. 

By comparing with VMs, its footprint is much smaller. An example is our "HealthShare UK Demo" which used to take about 90G to copy across without counting various snapshots. By using Docker images it would merely a few more Gs (on top of a 21G base HealthShare image) to accommodate all the UK specific classes, config and demo data. I also like the fact it only takes a few seconds to run from a pre-built image.

By comparing with direct installations, Docker certainly has the distinct advantages of "Portability", which is a common productivity boost. It would be slightly tricky (although do-able) to copy across a configured local instance to another laptop and make it running - but we do need quite a few hours to "hack" it through. A Docker image would save the day.

Next, we can simply commit various flavors of our above configured HealthShare containers into Docker images and exchange with other colleagues for further Dev, Tesing, Demo and Tourblehsooting purposes.     


6 Acknowledgement 

Thanks to Colin Fallon who worked out a good Dockerfile on his MacBook that really gave a boost here to finish off this long-due posting and make them all running better on my Docker Toolbox for Windows, in the hope to save a bit effort (no matter how little it is) for anyone who is interested in running HealthShare in Docker containers. 


7 Caveats

  1. HealthShare is not officially released for Docker Container yet. IRIS and IRIS Health are officially released as Docker certified applications, so we don't have to build their images from scratch anymore.
  2. Docker Toolbox for Windows becomes a legacy application. You can simply use "Docker Desktop for Windows" to build your own HealthShare images if it is working on your PC.
Discussion (3)1
Log in or sign up to continue

I tried to run your docker image. Building went "fine", only the Webterminal step failed... so I commented this part for now.

RUN printf "SuperUser\n${ISC_PACKAGE_USER_PASSWORD}\n"

But I get an error as soon as I try to run the image...

C:\Dev\iris_db>docker run -p 57772:57772 -p 1972:1972 -e ROOT_PASS="linux" --name HSTEST hs2018:care -i=HEALTHSHARE
2019/08/28 13:10:53 Starting Caché...
2019/08/28 13:10:53 Seeked /usr/healthshare/mgr/cconsole.log - &{Offset:0 Whence:2}
2019/08/28 13:10:54 Error & possible causes:
2019/08/28 13:10:54 -Caché was not installed successfully
2019/08/28 13:10:54 -wrong Caché instance name
2019/08/28 13:10:54 -missing privileges to start/stop Caché; proc not in Caché group.
2019/08/28 13:10:54 ERR: exit status 1;
Now attempting WIJ compare, ./CACHE.WIJ

Cache Write Image File has blocks to be written, but it has an illegal format,
We failed to fully restore the WIJ. The recommended action is to
abort cstart, resolve the problem and try again. The other
option is you can delete the image journal and continue with cstart.
If you delete the image journal and continue you will probably have
database degradation in the databases that were not fully restored.

If you are not absolutely sure you want to do this, do not continue
if you change your mind, you can run cstart again and you will
be given this choice again.
Is an operator present to answer questions (Y/N)? Y =>
Do you want to delete the Write Image File (Y/N)? N =>
A problem was encountered while attempting to restore the write image
journal file (CACHE.WIJ). See the console log for more information
before attempting to start cache again.

** Startup aborted **

Recovery failure. Startup aborted.

Note :  I've swiched to healthshare health connect 2018.1 instead...  and used the according cache.key.